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Kumar Sangakkara’s Cowdrey Lecture: “The Spirit of Sri Lanka’s Cricket” (Part 2 of 7)


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Kumar Sangakkara delivering the Cowdrey Lecture  at Lord’s at the invitation of the MCC on July 4, 2011. - 2
Kumar Sangakkara delivering the Cowdrey Lecture at Lord’s at the invitation of the MCC on July 4, 2011.

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On July 4, 2011, at the invitation of the MCC, Kumar Sangakkara, the former Captain of the Sri Lankan Cricket Team, delivered the Cowdrey Lecture  at Lord’s  titled “The Spirit of Sri Lanka’s Cricket – A Celebration of Our Uniqueness”.

This video is part 2 of Kumar Sangakkara’s hour-long speech. It is accompanied by its transcript.

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Transcript of  Kumar Sangakkara’s speech

 

The History of Sri Lanka

It (Sri Lanka) has long attracted the attentions of the world at times to our disadvantage and at times to our prosperity.

It is beautiful and it is inhabited by a wonderfully resilient and vibrant and hospitable people whose attitude to life has been shaped by volatile politics both internal and from without.

In our history, you will find periods of glorious peace and prosperity and times of great strife, war and violence. Sri Lankans have been hardened by experience and have shown themselves to be a resilient and proud society celebrating at all times our zest for life and living.

Sri Lankans are a close knit community. The strength of the family unit reflects the spirit of our communities. We are inquisitive. We are a fun-loving people, smiling defiantly in the face of hardship and raucously celebrating times of prosperity.

We live not for tomorrow, but for today, savouring every breath of our daily existence. We are fiercely proud of our heritage and culture; the ordinary Sri Lankan standing tall and secure in that knowledge.

Over four hundred years of colonization by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British has failed to crush or temper our indomitable spirit. And yet in this context the influence upon our recent history and society by the introduced sport of cricket is surprising and noteworthy. Sri Lankans for centuries have fiercely resisted the Westernisation of our society, at times summarily dismissing western tradition and influence as evil and detrimental.

Yet cricket, somehow, managed to slip through the crack in the anti-Western defences in our society and has now become the most precious heirloom of our British Colonial inheritance. It maybe because it is a result of our simple sense of hospitality where a guest is treated to all that we have and at times even to what we don’t have.

If you a visit a rural Sri Lankan home and you are served a cup of tea you will find it to be intolerably sweet. I have at times experienced this myself and upon further inquiry have found that it is because the hosts believe that the guest is entitled to more of everything including the sugar. In homes where sugar is an ill-affordable luxury a guest will still receive sugary tea while the hosts go without.

Sri Lanka’s Cricketing Roots

Fittingly, as it happens, Colin Cowdrey and Sri Lanka’s love for cricket had similar origins: Tea. Colin’s father, Ernest, was a tea planter in India. While he was schooled in England, he played on his father’s plantation where I am told he used to practice with Indian boys several years his elder. Cricket was introduced to Ceylon by men like Ernest, English tea planters, during the Colonial period of occupation that covered a span of about 150 years from 1796.

Credit for the game’s establishment in Sri Lanka, though, also has to be given to the Anglican missionaries to whom the colonial government left the function of establishing the educational institutions.

By the latter half of the 19th century, there grew a large group of Sri Lankan families who accumulated wealth by making use of the commercial opportunities thrown open by the colonial government.

However, a majority of these families could not gain any high social recognition due to the prevalence of a rigid hierarchal caste system which labelled them until death to the caste they were born into. A possible way out to escape the caste stigma was to pledge their allegiance to the British crown and help the central seat of government.

The missionaries, assessing the situation wisely, opened superior fee levying English schools especially in Colombo for the children of the affluent from all races, castes and religions. By the dawn of the 20th Century, the introduction of cricket to this educational system was automatic as the game had already ingrained itself deeply into the English life, as Neville Cardus says “without cricket there can be no summer in that land.”

Cricket was an expensive game needing playgrounds, equipment and coaches. The British missionaries provided all such facilities to these few schools. Cricket became an instant success in this English school system.

Most Sri Lankans considered cricket beyond their reach because it was confined to the privileged schools meant for the affluent.

The missionaries in due course arranged inter colligate cricket matches backed by newspaper coverage to become a popular weekend social event to attend.

The newspapers carried all the details about the cricket matches played in the country and outside. As a result school boy cricketers became household names. The newspapers also gave prominent coverage to English county cricket and it had been often said that the Ceylonese knew more of county cricket than the English themselves.

Cricket clubs were formed around the dawn of the 20th century, designed to cater for the school leavers of these colleges. The clubs bore communal names like the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC), the Tamil Union, the Burgher Recreation and the Moors Club, but if they were considered together they were all uniformly cultured with Anglicized values.

Inter-club matches were played purely for enjoyment. Club cricket also opened opportunities for the locals to mix socially with the British. So when Britain granted independence to Ceylon in 1948 it is no wonder cricket was a passion of the elitist class.

Although in the immediate post-independent period the Anglicized elite class was a small minority, they were pro-western in their political ideology and remained a powerful political lobby.

In the general elections immediately after independence, pro-elite governments were elected and the three Prime Ministers who headed the governments had played First XI cricket for premier affluent colleges and had been the members of SSC.

The period between 1960 and 1981 was one of slow progress in the game’s popularity as the power transferred from the Anglicized elite to rising Socialist and Nationalist groups. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka was made an associate member of the ICC in 1965, gaining the opportunity to play unofficial test matches with players like Michael Tissera and Anura Tennakoon impressing as genuine world-class batsmen.

Honorable Gamini Dissanayake (Source: en.wikipedia.org)
Honorable (late) Gamini Dissanayake (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

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In 1981, thanks to the efforts of the late Honourable Gamini Dissanayake, the ICC granted Sri Lanka official Test status. It was obviously a pivotal time in our cricketing history. And, this was the start of a transformation of cricket from an elite sport to a game for the masses.

Race Riots and Bloody Conflict

I do not remember this momentous occasion as a child. Maybe because I was only five years old, but also because it wasn’t a topic that dominated conversation in our home. The early 1980’s was dominated by the escalation of militancy in the north into a full-scale civil war that was to mar the next 30 years.

The terrible race riots of 1983 and a bloody communist insurgency amongst the youth was to darken my memories of my childhood and the lives of all Sri Lankans. I recollect now the race riots of 1983 now with horror, but for the simple imagination of a child not yet six it was a time of extended play and fun. I do not say this lightly as about 35 of our closest friends, all Tamils, took shelter in our home. They needed sanctuary from vicious politically-motivated goon squads and my father, like many other Sri Lankans from different ethnic backgrounds, opened their houses at great personal risk.

For me, though, it was a time where I had all my friends to play with all day long. The schools were closed and we’d play sports for hour after hour in the backyard – cricket, football, rounders. It was a child’s dream come true. I remember getting annoyed when a game would be rudely interrupted by my parents and we’d all be ushered inside, hidden upstairs with our friends and ordered to be silent as the goon squads started searching homes in our neighbourhood.

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Kumar Sangakkara’s Cowdrey Lecture: “The Spirit of Sri Lanka’s Cricket” (Part 1 of 7)


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Kumar Sangakkara delivering the Cowdrey Lecture  at Lord’s at the invitation of the MCC on July 4, 2011.
Kumar Sangakkara delivering the Cowdrey Lecture at Lord’s at the invitation of the MCC on July 4, 2011.

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On July 4, 2011, at the invitation of the MCC, Kumar Sangakkara, the former Captain of the Sri Lankan Cricket Team, delivered the Cowdrey Lecture  at Lord’s  titled “The Spirit of Sri Lanka’s Cricket – A Celebration of Our Uniqueness”.

Kumar Sangakkara is a rare example of a sportsman who provides revelations on and off the field. In this speech,  Kumar Sangakkara, the former Trinitian, born in Matale in 1977,  exposes an intellectual’s grasp of his subject and his passion for cricket.  The eloquent cricketer surmises, in a nutshell, the history of Sri Lankan cricket from its inception to the current scenario over there.

This speech has been acclaimed and praised by all cricketers and lovers of the game of cricket all over the world for its  outspoken, critical view of the game of cricket in Sri Lanka. No one else could have said this better than Kumar Sangakkara.

I am presenting here in my blog the video of Sangakkara’s hour-long speech in seven parts accompanied by its transcript.

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Transcript of  Kumar Sangakkara’s speech

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Michael Colin Cowdrey , English cricketer . (Source - theaustralian.com.au)
Michael Colin Cowdrey , English cricketer . (Source – theaustralian.com.au)

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Mr President, my Lords, Ladies and gentlemen.

Firstly, I wish to sincerely thank the MCC for giving me the opportunity and the great honour of delivering the 2011 Cowdrey Lecture.

I was in India after the World Cup when my manager called to pass on the message that CMJ was trying to get in touch with me to see whether I would like to deliver this year’s lecture. I was initially hesitant given the fact we would be in the midst of the current ODI series, but after some reflection I realised that it was an invitation I should not turn down. To be the first Sri Lankan to be invited was not only a great honour for me, but also for my fellow countrymen.

Then I had to choose my topic. I suspect many of you might have anticipated that I pick one of the many topics being energetically debated today – the role of technology, the governance of the game, the future of Test cricket, and the curse of corruption, especially spot-fixing. All of the above are important and no doubt Colin Cowdrey, a cricketing legend with a deep affection for the game, would have strong opinions about them all.

For the record, I do too. I strongly believe that we have reached a critical juncture in the game’s history and that unless we better sustain Test cricket, embrace technology enthusiastically, protect the game’s global governance from narrow self-interest, and more aggressively root out corruption, then cricket will face an uncertain future.

But, while these would all be interesting topics, deep down inside me I wanted to share with you a story, the story of Sri Lanka’s cricket, a journey that I am sure Colin would have enjoyed greatly because I don’t believe any cricket-playing nation in the world today better highlights the potential of cricket to be more than just a game.

This lecture is all about the Spirit of the Game and in this regard the story of Sri Lankan cricket is fascinating. Cricket in Sri Lanka is no longer just a sport. It is a shared passion that is a source of fun and a force for unity. It is a treasured sport that occupies a celebrated place in our society.

It is remarkable that in a very short period an alien game has become our national obsession, played and followed with almost fanatical passion and love. A game that brings the nation to a standstill; a sport so powerful it is capable of transcending war and politics. I, therefore, decided that tonight I would like to talk about the Spirit of Sri Lankan cricket.

Ladies and Gentleman, the history of my country extends over 2,500 years. A beautiful island. Rich in natural resources it is situated in an advantageously strategic position in the Indian Ocean.

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Next → Kumar Sangakkara’s Cowdrey Lecture (Part 2 of 7)

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Tit for Tat


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj..

Source: cartoonstock.com
Source: cartoonstock.com

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“Tit for tat” is an English saying dating to 1556, from “tip for tap”, i.e., retaliation in kind, an action given in return.

Here is an example. If you knock your sister in the head and she knocks you back, that’s tit for tat.

Tit for tat is like “blow for a blow.”

If you offer someone a chocolate  and she gives you one back, that’s not tit for tat, that’s  just offering a sweet.

On the other hand, “tit for tat” is meaner. It is something like when you hit someone and the other person retaliates with something equally bad.

This phrase is like saying “Let the punishment fit the crime!

That’s what you see in this video.

But what a punishment! I’d love that! :)

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Execution of 27-year-old Henry Pedris 100 Years Ago in Colonial Ceylon


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Map of Ceylon (1914)
Map of Ceylon (1914)

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A hundred years ago, on July 7, 1915, at the height of the anti-Moor riots, the firing squad of the 28th Battalion of the British Punjab Regiment, executed 27-year-old Duenuge Edward Henry Pedris at the Welikade Prison. The young man, a Captain of the Colombo Town Guard (CTG) was a prominent socialite and scion of one of the richest families in colonial British Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

On May 28, 1915, a petty incident in the town of Gampola in Ceylon, triggered a spate of communal riots between the Sinhalese and Muslims. It is now known as the ‘anti-Moor riots’ or ‘the 1915 riots’. Like wildfire, the riots swept through several districts of the Central, Western and Southern Provinces.

The Muslims in Kandy Town decided not to allow any perahera (procession) of the Buddhists beating the traditional drums, flutes and using any other musical organs to disturb worship at their mosque. But, on the following full Moon Poya Day of Vesak, the Buddhists held their usual perahera, following the usual route. When the perahera was passing the Mosque, a group of irresponsible Muslims  jeered and threw stones at the passing pageant. There was a pandemonium. The Buddhists retaliated resulting in a free-for-all leading to a conflagration.

The riots spread to Matale, Kegalle and even to Colombo. The Sinhala people harassed the Muslims throughout the country, leading to many deaths and loss of property. The Muslims sustained heavy losses.

The Right Honourable GCB PC, 21st Governor of Ceylon.
The Right Honourable Sir Robert Chalmers, the 21st British Governor of Ceylon.

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Sir Robert Chalmers, the 21st British Governor of Ceylon, feared he might lose control of the colony. He mistook the riots as a Sinhalese-Buddhist movement to oust the British from Ceylon, through mass violence. So, the British Colonial establishment waged war on the Sinhalese-Buddhists.

The British used untrained volunteers recruited from commercial establishments, shops, factories, and plantations, to suppress the riots.

Punjab Regiments, 1911. Watercolour by Major Alfred Crowdy Lovett (1862-1919). Copyright National Army Museum.
Punjab Regiments, 1911. Watercolour by Major Alfred Crowdy Lovett (1862-1919). Copyright National Army Museum.

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The soldiers of the 28th Battalion of the Punjab Regiment brought from India to help quell the riots, along with the volunteers unleashed a reign of terror in villages occupied by Sinhala Buddhists. They shot hundreds of civilians on sight and hauled up hundreds of innocent people before the military courts.

According to the available British records, 86 mosques and 17 Christian churches were burnt or damaged, around five boutiques and shops looted, 35 Muslims killed, 198 injured and four women raped. But unsubstantiated claims say thousands of Sinhalese died of bullet wounds.

Captain Duenuge Edward Henry Pedris

Our protagonist, the young Duenuge Edward Henry Pedris at first attended Royal College Colombo. Later, he joined St. Thomas’ College. He excelled in sports and cricket. He was a member of the school’s first eleven cricket team. After some time, he returned to Royal College where he again played cricket and took part in sports activities.

Hendry Pedris riding 'Rally' (Source: en.wikipedia.org)
Hendry Pedris riding ‘Rally’ (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

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After he finished school, Henry Pedris was much interested in horse riding. He excelled as a horseman  and had a wide knowledge about horses. A Russian Prince gave the Pedris family a horse named “Rally”. Henry rode the horse with the composure of a prince which made the minions of the British rulers envious of him.

Once, at a cinema hall, a British official walked in and demanded his seat. Henry refused and said that he too had paid the same fare and would enjoy the film from that seat.

Lanka calling

When World War I broke out, the British mobilized the Ceylon Defence Force and raised the Colombo Town Guard (CTG), a regiment of volunteers to defend Colombo if attacked.

His father, Duenuge Disan Pedris, had great hopes for his son’s future. He wanted his only son to take over his business enterprises and become a leader in the business sector. But Henry Pedris opted to join the Colombo Town Guard as a private. He was the first Sinhalese to enlist to the new regiment. His excellence in marksmanship and horsemanship made him a commissioned officer in the administrative (mounted) section. Within a year, he was promoted to the rank of Captain. Though Henry Pedris was by no means anti-British, he was much envied by the British because of this promotion and his immense wealth.

During the ‘anti-Moor riots’, Captain Henry Pedris was responsible for the defense of the city. He was successful in disbanding several rioting groups after peaceful discussions.

The shooting incidence in Pettah

On June 1, 1915, when Henry Pedris was at his shop on Main Street, Pettah,  a  mob of Moors advanced towards his shop. Pedris came out with a gun and fired six shots into the crowd. One of the bullets hit police constable Seneviratne in the head.

Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike KCMG JP.
Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike KCMG JP.

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Many British and jealous Sinhalese henchmen led by Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, the Maha Mudaliyar (chief native interpreter and adviser to the Governor), wished Henry Pedris and his rich family ill. They brought charges against him. They accused Henry Pedris of inciting people to march to Colombo from suburban Peliyagoda. He was also charged with shooting at the Moorish mob and attempted murder of constable Seneviratne, even though the constable survived.

The British officers and Punjabi soldiers  raided the Pedris’ residence on Turret Road.  They then broke the doors and almirahs and rifled the whole house, searching for any incriminating documents. They arrested Henry Pedris and incarcerated him in the Welikada Jail.

On June 2, 1915, Martial law came into effect throughout the country. Due to the rigor of the enforced martial law, normalcy returned within ten days. However, the Martial law was in force until August 30, 1915.

Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan (Source: archives.dailynews.lk)
Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan (Source: archives.dailynews.lk)

On July 1, 1915, a military court tried Henry Pedris. Sir Hector Van Culenburg, the elected Legislative Council member pleaded for Henry Pedris. Many prominent citizens and educationists, both British and Ceylonese alike, including Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan appealed against the judgment. An appeal was also made to King George V.

Governor Sir Robert Chalmers and the Inspector General of Police, Herbert Layard Dowbiggin, were adamant that Henry Pedris should die.  They wanted to make the swift execution of Captain Henry Pedris a lesson for the  ringleaders of the anti-British movement.

The three presiding military judges declared Henry Pedris guilty and branded him a traitor.

The Ceylon Observer of July 5, 1915, records the death sentence passed on Henry Pedris. He was charged with “treason, shop-breaking, attempted murder and wounding with intent to murder.

The military court sentenced him to death by firing squad and set July 7, 1915, as the date of execution, without any form of appeal.

The British rulers imprisoned more 86 prominent Sinhalese leaders, members of an emerging Ceylonese élite for ‘waging war against the King‘ and abetting the riots against ‘His Majesty’s Moorish subjects.‘ Among the arrested were D. S. Senanayake, D. R. Wijewardena,  F. R. Senanayake, Edwin Wijeyeratne, D. B.Jayatilaka, Dr. Cassius Pereira, Dr. W. A. de Silva, E. T. De Silva, F. R. Dias Bandaranaike, Dr. C. A. Hewavitharana, H. Amarasuriya, A. H. Molamure, A. E. Goonesinghe and several others.

Execution of Captain Henry Pedris

At 7.30 a.m., on the day of the execution, Additional District Judge Arthur Charles Allnut, a graduate of the Oxford University and a member of the Ceylon Civil Service, ordered that the 86 Sinhala-Buddhist notables to  line up in the veranda outside L-Hall in Welikade Prison, and watch Henry Pedris walk to his death.

Captain Henry Pedris dressed in his Town Guard uniform, but stripped of his rank, marched with his head held high and chest forward. At the site of the execution, they strapped him to a chair.

Before his execution, Henry Pedris requested that he be shot by a Punjabi firing squad, and not a British squad, as the Punjabi soldiers were Non-Christian and Asians. Allnut acceded to his request. He ordered the soldiers of the 28th Battalion of the Punjab Regiment brought from India, to carry out the sentence. Captain Duenuge Edward Henry Pedris rejected the blindfold offered to him. He faced the Punjabis without any fear.

After the execution, F. R. Senanayake on seeing the limp body of Henry Pedris slumped in the chair to which he was strapped, vowed that he would initiate a concerted struggle to free the country from British colonial rule.

The prison authorities then took the blood-soaked chair on which Captain Hendry Pedris sat when shot to the prison cells to warn the incarcerated Sinhalese leaders, including D. S. Senanayake, the  future first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, that they could be next.

Burial of Captain Henry Pedris

Duenuge Disan Pedris (Father of Henry Pedris)
Duenuge Disan Pedris (Father of Henry Pedris)

Mallino Pedris (Mother of Henry Pedris)
Mallino Pedris (Mother of Henry Pedris)

The British refused to hand over the body of Henry Pedris to his grieving parents who wanted to accord their dead son a Buddhist burial with attendant religious rites.

Before burying the body of Henry Pedris, the British rulers declared Martial law for the first time in the whole island.

They transported the body of Henry Pedris to the Kanatte cemetery in great secrecy at midnight in the midst of martial law. The British had come to know that his father Duenuge Disan Pedris had owned several family burial plots at the General Cemetery at Kanatte in Borella. They chose one of these plots for the burial. It was the only burial not recorded in the General Cemetery registers or any other official register, since 1910. For the first time, the British rulers declared Martial law in the whole island.

Duenuge Disan Pedris had not only lost his only son, but he also lost two of his sons-in-law who were also incarcerated in the Welikada Prison. Though disheartened, he was silent as he did not want any more of his family members imprisoned by the British.

Most Ceylonese viewed the execution of 27-year-old Duenuge Edward Henry Pedris as unjust. The Sri Lankan patriotic leaders took the cue from his death and projected him as a martyr. His death motivated the pioneering patriotic leaders of the liberation movements organize themselves and strive for a concerted campaign to liberate the country from the harsh British rule.

The execution of Henry Pedris and the many unjustifiable and arbitrary  brutal acts committed by the British during the 1915 riots hastened the formation of the Ceylon National Congress on December 11, 1919 by members of the Ceylon National Association (founded in 1888) and the Ceylon Reform League (founded in 1917).

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An Innovative Solution to a Problem.


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes defining it, and 5 minutes solving it” – Albert Einstein

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Camels (Source: religion.blogs.cnn.com)
Camels (Source: religion.blogs.cnn.com)

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Long ago a rich Arab was nearing death. He wanted to bequeath all his worldly possessions to his three sons, born to three different mothers. Since the sons were young, he wanted a wise man to look after them and his possessions. To find that wise man he devised a plan. He called his sons and relatives of his three wives to his room. He told them to divide his possessions among the three sons soon after his death.

One elderly relative pointed out that everything the rich man possessed was divisible by three except the 17 camels.

All remained silent, waiting for an answer from the dying man.

The rich man said: “Yes, I know that it is a problem. I want my 17 camels divided in the following proportions: My eldest son shall have half of them, my second son shall have one-third, and my youngest son shall have one-ninth.

There was a murmur among those present in the room.

“I also want a wise person to administer my possessions and be the guardian of my sons,” the dying man said. “If there is a wise person amongst you who could solve this problem of dividing the 17 camels in the ratio I have bequeathed, then let him be the guardian.”

A few days later, the rich man died after writing his will, leaving his three sons and relatives of his three wives confounded.

The relatives approached the Sultan. Even in the Sultan’s court there was no one clever enough to solve the old man’s request.

A lot of suggestions came from various quarters. One minister suggested dividing the camels after they produced offsprings. Another suggested selling the camels and then dividing the proceeds among the three sons. The learned old judges of the Sultan’s court told the Sultan to declare the will void because it was inexecutable.

Then the court jester raised his hand.

“What do you suggest?” the Sultan asked.

“Your highness, if we think that there is no solution, we won’t be able to find any. The first step in solving any problem is to believe that there is  a solution.”

“So, what should we do?” the Sultan asked.

“Why not we ruminate on this vexing problem for a week and then see whether we can come up with a solution,” the court jester replied.

“I think this clown is correct. We will meet again after a week and find out whether anyone comes up with a good solution.”

After a week all assembled at the Sultan’s court. But no one came forward with a solution.

The court jester approached the Sultan and said he has a solution. Everyone laughed. The court jester too laughed along with them.

The court jester smiled and said, “I will add your camel to the flock of the dead man. So, we now have 18 camels. The eldest son gets one-half of the flock, which is nine. The second son gets one-third, which amounts to six. The third son should get one-ninth that is two. So, nine plus six plus two amounts to 17. That will leave just one camel, the 18th camel, which is yours and I return it to you.”

Everyone at the court, including the Sultan marveled at the wisdom of the jester. Without any hesitation, they chose him to be the guardian to the dead man’s three sons.

So, whenever a challenging problem confronts you, always remember this story of the 18th camel. Since there is always a solution to any problem emulate the court jester and try to come up with an innovative solution.

What Do People in the IT Companies Really Do?


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Sometimes back I came across on Facebook the following thought-provoking conversation between a father and his son working for an IT company. It was in Tamil. I have embellished it for your reading pleasure.

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Source:- pronetusa.biz
Source:- pronetusa.biz

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Dad: “By the way, what do people working in IT companies do?”

Son: “Why do you ask?”

Dad: “Because I see them strutting about like the peacocks – aloof and serious.”

Son: “Appa (Dad), do you include me also in your remark?”

Dad: “In a way, yes. Is it because you guys earn hefty salaries?”

Son: “Appa, these westerners, especially the Americans, want everything done in a jiffy. And, for this, they are ready to spend any amount.”

Dad: “Yes. Yes. Loaded as they are, they can afford to spend on such things.”

Son: Almost all companies and banks in the US, UK, and other European countries are ready to spend any amount to develop software  to do this thing or that thing. We call them ‘clients’.”

Dad: “OK”.

Son: “The IT companies have their offices and personnel in those countries to sniff out such clients who are ready to dole out heavy amounts. We call such personnel ‘Pre-Sales Consultants’, ‘Sales Consultants, etc.”

Dad: “What do your sniffers do?”

Son: “On approaching a potential client, our consultants will first introduce our company. They will highlight the pros where we excel more than our competitors.”

Dad: “So, your consultants will cast the bait and wait for the fish to bite!”

Son: “Yes. While nibbling the bait, the potential client will ask 1001 questions. They will want to know whether we can do this, do that and so on.”

Dad: “And…”

Son: “Our Consultants will assert that our programmers can develop whatever they want. They will eulogize the members of our IT personnel as demigods who can create any kind of software for quick and efficient conduct of their business.”

Dad: “Then, you are a demigod?”

Son:  “Hired as consultants at exorbitant salaries, it is their duty to say so.”

Dad: “What educational qualifications should a consultant have?”

Son: “Most of them are highly qualified MBA, MS, and such other degree holders.”

Dad: “What! Do you need people with such high qualifications to just say ‘can do’?”

Son: “Yes. Their qualifications carry much-needed weight to inveigle a potential client.”

Dad: “And then what? Will the potential client transform into a loyal client?”

Son: “Appa, it is a bit difficult to predict. There is a lot of competition in the IT field. Like our firm, other IT companies in India and other eastern countries too would have approached the potential client.

Dad: “So, how will you secure the project?”

Son: “Here comes the power of persuasion. Our consultants will promise the potential client that members of our software development team being demigods would complete their project in 60 days what in reality would take more than a year to complete.”

Dad: “How can a project that would take a year to complete be accomplished in just two months? Would it be possible even if they work 24 hours a day? Doesn’t the promise amount to cheating?”

Son: “I won’t  call it cheating because, during those 60 days, the client would be hazy about what the real needs are, neither will we be. Even so, we will deliver ‘a completed project’ in 60 days.”

Dad: “Then what will happen?”

Son: “The client will moan and say ‘This is not what we wanted’. They will then demand  that we incorporate this, that, and so forth.”

Dad: “And, then…”

Son: “Our consultants will ask them to raise a ‘CR’.”

Dad: “A CR?”

Son: “Change Request.”

Dad: “What does that mean?”

Son: “Our consultants will tell the client that during the stipulated 60 days our company had accomplished work for the amount paid, and if the client requires anything else, then the client will have to pay extra.”

Dad: “Will the client agree?”

Son: “Yes. The client has to agree. Can you face the world with a half-done haircut?”

Dad: “Ok. Now tell me what your company does once they secure a project.”

Son: “First, we will form a team for the project. A Project Manager will head the team.”

Dad: “That means, the person appointed as the Project Manager will know every aspect of that project.”

Son: “Not at all. The Project Manager knows nothing of what the programmers under him do.”

Dad: “If so, what is his work?”

Son: “If any of us make a mistake, we will point our finger at the Project Manager. He is the proverbial Redeemer, ‘The lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world‘, the martyr, and the scapegoat. He is always under stress wondering who in the team might be next trying to bury him. “

Dad: “Poor fellow.”

Son: “The success or failure of a project is in the hands of the Project ManagerIf it is a success, the team gets the accolade, but if it fails, then he gets the boot. “

Dad: “I pity the poor soul.”

Son: “If we have any problems, we approach him.”

Dad: “Will he solve your problems?”

Son: “What! Solve our problems? Never. The company pays him to shake his head in the affirmative and mumble, ‘I fully understand your problem‘. It’s like you shake your head before Amma (mom).”

Dad: “I am glad to know that you at least accept me as the manager of this house. Carry on.”

Son: “Under the Project Manager are the Tech Lead, Model Lead, Program Developers, Software Testers, etc.)”

Dad: “You come under the category of…”

Son: “Developer. Most developers are from Tamilnadu, Andhra, and Karnataka.”

Dad: “What do the Testers do?”

Son: “The sole object of the Testers is to find fault with the work of the developers.”

Dad: “What! Your company pays Testers to find fault in the work of others?”

Son: “Yes.”

Dad: “So, with the combined efforts of all these staff, the project would be easy to complete, isn’t it?”

Son: “It’s not so. Only the developers and the testers work. Others, from my point of view, just idle.”

Dad: “Will you complete the project before the due date?”

Son: “Of course not. It would be a shame if we complete the work by the due date and it would rather be better to commit suicide because the management would think the work is just simple and start the process of retrenching.”

Dad: “But, won’t the client question the company about the time lag in completing the project?”

Son: “Yes. The client will! But, we will counter the client by saying, the computers they gave us were dusty; their staff coughed during the team meets infecting our staff; inclement weather; unpleasant working environment; toilets not clean;  cobwebs on the ceiling, etc., and flabergast the client.”

Dad: “And then…”

Son: “The confused client, with no other option left, will give us some more time to finish the project.”

Dad: “And will you complete the project in time and hand  it over to the client?”

Son: “Not at all. If we do that, then half the computer savvy people in our country will have to beg on the streets.”

Dad: “So?”

Son: “A few weeks before handing over the completed project, we will stage a scene before the client. We will throw a hint that we had accomplished something stupendous in our project that only our developers could understand and manage.”

Dad: “And?”

Son: “Like a new bride, the flabergasted client will beg us to not to leave and will request us to provide them a few of our developers who could stay with them to run and take care of the project. This additional process called ‘Maintenance and Support‘ will be an ongoing project for years to come.”

Dad: “Now, I understand the workings and strategies of an IT company. It’s not only marrying a woman, but also maintaining her for an indefinite period in the future!”

Son: “Yes, Appa.”

Mom Explains How Life Changes After Pregnancy.


By  Mary Sue

Do you know how life changes when a young couple decides to become young parents? Do they think it boils down to adding more commitments and costs? Or do you already know about the emotional toll and everything it entails? Here’s a story that elucidates it all.

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Sleeping pregnant woman (Source: pluslifestyles.com)
Sleeping pregnant woman (Source: pluslifestyles.com)

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“We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of “starting a family.”

“We’re taking a survey,” she says half-joking. “Do you think I should have a baby?”

“It will change your life,” I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.

“I know,” she says, “no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations.”

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes.

I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, “What if that had been MY child?” That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her.

That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of “Mom!” will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moments hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby’s sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five-year-old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room rather than the women’s at McDonald’s will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.

That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor.

My daughter’s relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks.

I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child.

I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike.

I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time.

I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.

My daughter’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. “You’ll never regret it,” I finally say. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter’s hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.

Please share this with a Mom that you know or all of your girlfriends who may someday be Moms. May you always have in your arms the one who is in your heart.”

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Re-posted from  hrtwarming.com

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An Angel Saves a 2-year-old Baby Girl


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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This video of rescuing a child that fell into a borewell may be three years old. It made a great impression and still inspires me.

In the village of Bebera in Romania, a 2-year-old baby girl, Alina, fell into a five meters deep borewell. Rescuers spent almost six hours to save the child. But all their efforts seemed futile.

Then, an angel from the watching multitude, stepped forward. She volunteered to help retrieve the child that had fallen in the borewell. The angel was a teenager named Fornica. Her thin frame just fitted the 15-inch diameter mild steel borewell casing.

After securing her with ropes, the rescuers directed her into the borewell, head first.

The first attempt was a failure.

The undaunted brave teenager volunteered to plunge into the borewell a second time.

While the whole nation was watching and praying, the brave teenager made her second attempt and succeeded in retrieving the 2-year-old Alina, safe and sound.

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“Teach me HUMANITY!”


Originally posted on sonia2butterflywings:

Humanity <3

They taught her to read

And also to write

They showed her colors

From black to white

She learnt how to dance

And twirl around

She was taught golden words

And musical sound

They told her of Nature

Animals and trees

Of it’s loving Creator

Mountains and seas

She learned to add, subtract,

Multiply and divide

Brackets open and close

Rules to abide

She understood that

The earth rotates

That every country

Has a number of states

She learnt of great men

And wars lost and won

Of women ill-treated

Rise together as one

Acids and bases

Mixed and neutralized

Laws of gravity

Made her all realize

That knowledge is power

It comes at a cost

Everyone can’t afford

What they want the most

But the most important

Lesson of all said she,

“They forgot to teach

Was HUMANITY!”

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A European in the Orient: Part 3 – Did Marco Polo Really Travel to the Far East?


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Marco Polo (Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Marco Polo (Source: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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Marco Polo died at his home in Venice on January 8, 1324. Before his death, friends and readers of his book visited him and urged him to admit that his book was a fiction. Marco would not relent. He told them:

I have not told half of what I saw!

​Marco Polo has been long regarded as the earliest and most distinguished of European travelers of all times for traversing Asia from one extremity to the other. He surpassed every other traveler of his time in the extent of the unknown regions he visited, as well as in the amount of new and important information he had collected. His description of the Chinese imperial court and the Chinese empire under the most powerful of the Asiatic dynasties, and tales of the adjacent countries in the Far East, forms a grand historical picture not painted by any other traveler of his period.

Authenticity is important in any travel narrative, otherwise it altogether becomes a worthless romance. A profound ignorance veiled  Europe when the Polos returned from the East. Doubts of the authenticity of Marco’s tales arose since most of the regions he had traversed were wholly unknown at that time. And his discoveries far transcended the knowledge of his age. Also, many editions of Marco Polo’s travelogue proliferated in an age when printing was unknown. The narratives varied from one another, often corrupted to a great extent.

Even now, some argue that Marco Polo never reached China, but cobbled together secondhand accounts of what he had heard. They say there are inaccuracies in the tales. They point out that he never mentioned the basic elements of Chinese culture, such as drinking tea, the use of chopsticks, the Chinese characters, or the tradition of foot-binding.

Responders to such skeptics have stated that if the purpose of Marco Polo’s stories of travels was to impress others with tales of his high esteem for an advanced civilization, then it is possible that Polo shrewdly would omit those details that would cause his readers to scoff at the Chinese with a sense of European superiority. Marco lived among the elite Mongols. Foot-binding was almost unknown among the Mongols and was rare even among Chinese during Polo’s time.

Some observers, who have only a cursory view of the history of China, say he never mentioned the Great Wall in his book. These people are ignorant of the fact that the Great Wall, familiar to us today, is a Ming structure constructed, about two centuries after Marco Polo’s travels in China, to keep out northern invaders.

New Evidence

It is odd that Marco Polo never produced a single map to accompany his narrative accounts in the ghostwritten book. Hence, scholars have long debated its the veracity. Now, there is new evidence in favor for this historical puzzle of whether Marco Polo did indeed visit China and the Far East. The proof is in the form of a curious collection of fourteen little-known maps and related documents purported to have belonged to the family of Marco Polo.

In the 1880s, Marcian Rossi, an Italian, immigrated to the United States. He brought along with him a collection of sheepskin vellum he said were of the 13th and 14th century. There were 14 little-known maps and related documents detailing Marco Polo’s journey to the Far East. These  documents bear the signatures of the three daughters of Marco Polo — Fantina, Bellela and Moreta.

The existence of these parchments came to light only in the 1930s, when Marcian Rossi contacted the Library of Congress. He explained that Marco Polo had bestowed the documents upon a Venetian Admiral, Ruggero Sanseverino, and that they had been passed down through generations of the Rossi family. But the collection did not undergo exhaustive analysis.

Are the maps forgeries or facsimiles?  They created a problem for the historians of cartography. Did Marco Polo’s daughters, whose names appear on some of these artifacts, preserve in them geographic information about Asia as told by their father? Did they inherit the maps created by him? Did Marco Polo entrust the maps to a Venetian admiral who had links to Rossi’s family line? Or, if the maps have no connection to Marco Polo, who made them, when, and for what purpose?

While some historians discounted the 14 parchments as mere fantasy, forgeries, or facsimiles, others wanted a balanced, detailed study of the documents.

Benjamin B. Olshin, a historian of cartography and a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, spent more than a decade studying the artifacts. He translated the Italian, Latin, Arabic and Chinese inscriptions found therein. All but one of the original documents, a map Marcian Rossi donated to the Library of Congress, remain in the possession of Rossi’s great-grandson Jeffrey Pendergraft in Texas. Olshin is the first scholar in decades to see those originals.

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Marco Polo's 'Map with Ship' (Credit: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division)
Marco Polo’s ‘Map with Ship‘ (Credit: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division)

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The map donated by Marcian Rossi to the Library of Congress, dubbed “Map with Ship,” is a curious one. It has an illustration of a Venetian sailing vessel and a sketch of what appears to be outlines of Japan, Siberia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, the Bering Strait, the Aleutian Islands and the coastlines of present-day Alaska and British Columbia. The map was not a navigational aid because it lacks longitude and latitude reference lines.

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The Mysteries of the Marco Polo Maps by Benjamin B. Olshin
The Mysteries of the Marco Polo Maps by Benjamin B. Olshin

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Olshin has detailed the results of his intensive research in his book, “The Mysteries of the Marco Polo Maps.” The book is the first credible book-length analysis of these parchments. It is a balanced, detailed, and a non speculative work of cartographic scholarship, not another ‘who discovered?’ sensation. Olshin charts the course of the documents from obscure origins in the private collection of the Italian-American immigrant Marcian Rossi in the 1930s. He describes the investigations by the Library of Congress, J. Edgar Hoover, and the FBI for their authenticity. Olshin describes his own efforts to track down and study the Rossi maps.

After a  thorough tracing of Marcian Rossi’s ancestry, Olshin asserts that Rossi’s explanation that Marco Polo had bestowed the documents upon a Venetian admiral, Ruggero Sanseverino, and that they had been passed down through generations of the Rossi family was credible.

Olshin describes himself as an “evidence guy” and makes no claims that the document “Map with Ship,” depicts Alaska for certain although there are similarities. Olshin also admits, the authenticity of the ten maps and four texts is not settled. The ink on the parchments remains untested. A radiocarbon study of the sheepskin vellum of one key map, the only one subjected to such analysis, dates it to the 15th or 16th century, making it at best a copy.

Regardless of the origin of the documents, Olshin offers insights into Italian history, the age of exploration, and the wonders of cartography. He then takes his readers on a fascinating journey to the early legendary lands of the Chinese.

Alessandro Scafi said in Times Literary Supplement (UK):

“Olshin plays with the idea that Marco Polo’s relatives may have preserved geographical information about distant lands first recorded by him, or even that they may have inherited maps that he made. If genuine, Olshin argues, these maps and texts would confirm that Marco Polo knew about the New World two centuries before Columbus, either from his own experience or through hearing about it from the Chinese … Fascinating material … Olshin himself admits that there is no hard evidence to support his thrilling speculations. Including translations of every annotation and inscription, Olshin’s study and description of the fourteen parchments are exhaustive. His analysis, however, leaves many questions open … A fascinating tale about maps, history and exploration.”

The parchments in the Rossi collection may not only back up Marco Polo’s claim that he journeyed to the Orient, but also could reveal he might have set foot on the North American continent, 200 years before Christopher Columbus. It is purported that Columbus carried a well-worn copy of “The Travels of Marco Polo” with him on his historic 1492 voyage. It is conjectured that the travels of Marco Polo inspired Columbus to seek a westward sea route to the riches of East Asia, but instead landed in the New World.

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← Previous: Part 2 – The Book “The Travels of Marco Polo”

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